Insomnia (insomnia) wrote,

Of drunken babbling and weird weekends...

One of the more interesting people I have met in my life is Louis Thoreaux.

Once upon a time, long ago, downtown San Jose had a small, somewhat interesting and eccentric community. Louis had just started writing for The Metro, the local "alternative" paper... and was really a street-level kinda guy. He got to know and to document the odd behaviour of downtown S.J.'s streetlife. Louis would go out to drink with one or another of these characters in tow, much to the chagrin of local bartenders, who probably booted the person from the bar only a few days ago.

What impressed me about Louis is that he was somewhat like me at the time, somewhat quiet and unassuming, yet he was able to befriend and connect with these people on some kind of level. He wasn't just interested in getting a story... he had a great deal of kindness and a kind of childlike curiosity about everything that allowed him to get past societal barriers and wiggle his way into odd subcultures, and sometimes, bravely, into dangerously awkward situations... For obvious reasons, though, we both avoided getting too involved with downtown San Jose's odder characters. At a certain point, you have to say to yourself "That person's reality is amazingly strange... an interesting place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there..."

Well, about 4 years after Louis left downtown San Jose, I noticed him on Michael Moore's TV Nation... which, of course, could never survive on television, but was easily the best social satire on the air. I thought Louis' bits on groups like the Ku Klux Klan were brilliant... it seemed to be exactly what he was meant to do all along... well, at least I thought that way until I saw his own show on Bravo, Louis Theroux's Weird Weekends which was even better. Don't know why I didn't check it earlier, but the show has a website. Unfortunately, Bravo seem to be taking a break from showing any more episodes at this moment, but hopefully this will not be the last we all see from Louis...

Unfortunately, most of the most interesting and most eccentric of S.J. aren't around today... they have long since become terminally intoxicated versions of their old selves, vanishing without a whisper, or they have moved on and somehow survived those days, choosing to extricate their eccentric behavior, doing selective surgery on themselves... cutting away the cancer that made them uniquely dysfunctional. Either way, they aren't the same old personalities anymore. There also seems to be a shortage of promising new eccentrics to take their place... About the only true downtown eccentric still left standing is Bill Chew, the cowboy hat wearing roller skater who is in constant motion, except when he stops to tell you about his latest (unsuccessful) campaign for mayor. All this goes to show you... if you aspire to lasting eccentricity, it helps to stay fit.

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